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Neat your heart out

Glendale bar's selection of premium spirits borders on 'booze porn.'

November 13, 2011|By Don Waller
  • Bartender, Aash Pakzad, makes a chaser at Neat bar in Glendale on Wednesday, November 9, 2011. Neat bar is owned by Aiden Demarest who came up with the idea where customers can come in for a straight shot, usually served side by side with a chaser. Chasers are made by the bartender, which is made with fresh juices, house made syrups or artisanal sodas. Demarest bought the bar, previously called Sidebar and opened his doors to the public on October 8, 2011. (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer)
Bartender, Aash Pakzad, makes a chaser at Neat bar in Glendale…

In the slanguage of the saloon, “neat” means a measure of alcohol served without ice, water or anything else.

Ordering a drink “neat” also means you enjoy the taste of a particular alcoholic beverage. And if you do, then Neat — which opened last month in Glendale — is, just like the bar in the Talking Heads song “Heaven,” for you.

But Neat isn't a place where you'll find Jack Daniel's No. 7 among the 250-plus bottles behind the 30-foot bar.

Instead, Neat's owner/operator Aidan Demarest — a Boston émigré who made his “sultan of the shaker” reputation at downtown L.A.'s Edison and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel's Spare Room — has stocked his shelves exclusively with super-premium spirits of such price and rarity that it borders on “booze porn.”

You enter Neat through a façade of river rock — longtime area residents will recognize it as the former Side Bar — into a candlelit world of dark polished woods, settle into one of the comfortable, high-backed barstools, and survey the posted “menus.”

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One's a list of available libations, which extends to pisco, a South American brandy. The other explains that all mixers are “fresh juices, house-made syrups and artisanal sodas.”

You voice your choice, which is poured into a rocks glass and placed on a small wooden pallet with indentations for the spirit and the mixer's glassware, and start sipping.

As someone who bleeds Irish whiskey, I begin with something I've never seen before: Finian's, an independent distillery's blend with a honeyed aftertaste not unlike Jameson's or Powers.

My fellow Lushkateer wants a not-too-peaty Scotch, and our bartender, Arash Palczad, helps her decide by splashing a sip's worth from two bottles into a pair of glasses. She'll have the Balvenie DoubleWood, a 12-year-old, single malt aged in oaken casks that held whiskey, then sherry, which adds a sweet note.

At Arash's suggestion, we complement these with soda water — from a bottle; no bar guns in the house — and forgo mixing our own cocktails to savor the flavors and survey the scene: two black-leather booths flanking the door, cocktail chairs and tables opposite the bar, and a larger table at the back.

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